Ideally, we would like to think that gender is irrelevant in the field of literature. A good book is a good book regardless of the gender of the writer. But this is not the case in reality. So many studies show that women are underrepresented and underestimated in literature and publishing at large. We can cite from the history of literature many instances of women who had to use a man’s name to get recognition: Amantine Dupin–George Sand, Karen Blixen–Isak Dinesen, Laura Albert–J.T. Leroy, and the most contemporary case: Joanne Rowling who was told by her publisher to use J.K. Rowling to anticipate that potential readers might not like to read books by women.
The awareness of such a thing created the rising of women’s literature and publishing in the North and especially in the South to close the gap. But didn’t we just create a new bias and a new pigeon-hole with this new category of “Women’s Lit”? On the one side, that everything that was written by women must be an important voice/contribution and appreciated just because of the gender of its author. On the other side, “Women’s Lit” is often promoted and considered as easy reading and escapist fiction.
The market is often complicit in these biases. Readers—most likely unaware of these — already had pre-conceptions of women’s writing, like “Men can write about everything and speak for everybody; while women mostly write about themselves.” How to avoid such biases? And for deeper discussion, are there such things as the “feminine” and the “masculine” in literature? What constitutes each characteristic or category? For example, is an “autobiographical” element essentially a feminine quality?
Bejan Matur (TUR)
Zainab Priya Dala (ZAF)
Saras Dewi (IDN)
Hera Diani (IDN)